SALEM — The Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Grant Program provides funding to schools to purchase Oregon products for their school meal programs, connects farmers, ranchers, processors, and seafood harvesters to the school marketplace, and teaches schoolchildren how to grow fruits and vegetables in school gardens. More than 300 Oregon producers, processors, ranchers, seafood harvesters, and manufacturers participate in, and benefit from, the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Grant Program.
Recently, the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Grant Program received a substantial increase in funding for the 2019-2021 biennium. House Bill (HB) 2579 increased the program budget from $4.6 million to $15 million. With increased funding, HB 2579 will expand the Farm to School Program to early childcare and summer food service centers, such as Head Start. There are more than 900 summer meals sites around Oregon, providing more sources for Oregon produce and other products during harvest season.
Most of the funding will be awarded in grants to help school districts purchase more Oregon grown and processed foods. Oregon’s Farm to School Program also provides funding to educate children about nutritious food choices, Oregon agriculture, and school garden activities. Oregon’s more than 700 school gardens provide a place for kids to learn how to grow their own vegetables and learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
Another important change to the program is a new grant program at the Oregon Department of Agriculture. HB 2579 establishes an equipment and infrastructure grant to help farmers, ranchers, processors, seafood harvesters and others overcome barriers to access school markets. Overall the program continues to support the local economy and provides an opportunity for Oregon farmers to feed Oregon’s children.